“CAN-SPAM” in Affiliate Marketing

The Controlling the Assault of Non-Solicited Pornography And Marketing (CAN-SPAM) Act is a critical piece of U.S. legislation that sets the rules for commercial email and gives recipients the right to stop any email from a particular sender. In the context of affiliate marketing, understanding and complying with CAN-SPAM is essential. Let’s explore its implications:

1. Clear and Honest Subject Lines:

The subject line of any email must accurately reflect the content of the email. Misleading subject lines can lead to penalties.

2. Identify the Message as an Ad:

The law gives leeway on how to do this, but the message must be clear to the recipient that they are receiving an advertisement.

3. Location Information:

Every email must include the physical postal address of the sender. This can be the current street address, a post office box registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox registered with a commercial mail receiving agency.

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4. Opt-Out Mechanism:

Every email must contain a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of receiving future emails. This process must be simple, such as a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice.

5. Prompt Opt-Out Processing:

Once someone has opted out, marketers have 10 business days to remove them from the list. Charging a fee, requiring the recipient to provide any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or making the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request are all prohibited.

6. Liability Extends to Affiliates:

If an affiliate violates the CAN-SPAM Act, both the company whose product is being promoted and the affiliate marketer can be held responsible.

7. No Transfer of Email Addresses:

It’s prohibited to transfer email addresses of people who choose not to receive emails to other affiliates or companies.

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8. Monitor Affiliates:

If a business hires others to handle its email marketing, it remains responsible for complying with the law. Regular monitoring of affiliates is essential to ensure they are following CAN-SPAM regulations.

9. Penalties for Non-Compliance:

Violations of the CAN-SPAM Act can result in hefty fines. Each separate email in violation of the law is subject to penalties, so the sums can quickly add up.

10. Building Trust:

Beyond legal compliance, respecting recipients’ wishes and being transparent in email communications helps build trust. Trust is a cornerstone in affiliate marketing, and adhering to CAN-SPAM can enhance an affiliate’s reputation.


The CAN-SPAM Act, while regulatory in nature, underscores the importance of ethical and transparent email marketing practices. For affiliate marketers, understanding and adhering to CAN-SPAM isn’t just about avoiding penalties; it’s about building and maintaining trust with audiences. In a landscape where trust translates to conversions, compliance with CAN-SPAM is both a legal necessity and a strategic imperative.

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Razvan Alexa

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